Friday, October 21, 2005

Not Quite

I actually was fortunate enough to go to Game 6 on Wednesday night, thanks to a friend who got tickets and offered me an extra. ("Well, I'll think about it....") We were sitting 12 rows behind home plate and were so jacked about the game that we got there more than 2 hours before game time - in plenty of time to see the Cardinals take batting practice.

Before the game started, I realized that we were sitting right behind Greg Mathews. I didn't say anything to him all night, as I just kind of assumed that he'd want to be left alone. I will note right now, though, for the record, that no one appeared to come to him and say anything all night (other than his friends, of course.) And I must further admit that I didn't remember him having such a solid year in 1987 - so solid, in fact, that he started (and won) Game 1 of the NLCS that season. So I honestly felt kind of bad for not saying something to him during the game. You'd think that a key part of an NL champion team in St. Louis should have at least been recognized by someone. Whatever the case, you'll see that I'm now sponsoring his page on baseball-reference.com. Call it my small part to help remind people. And if any of you happen know Mr. Mathews, send me his email address. I'd like to say something to him properly.

Anyway, I'm not going to break down the game or the series with much, if any, detail. That's been done to death already. I will, however, say that the game was somewhat surreal last night. When Marquis allowed the 4th Astro run of the game, it was pretty obvious that the Cardinals weren't going to get it done. That's when - at least, in my section - people seemed to shift gears from thinking about 2005 to thinking about Busch stadium. Yes, there was still hope that the Cardinals would come back, but it didn't seem all that realistic, or maybe even important.

Once the final out was made, the entire crowd just kind of stood around in silence. People were taking pictures of each other in the stadium for one last time, saying their good-byes. Many stuck around for the video presentation of highlights of Busch (complete with cheesy music - think NBC and the Olympics.)

The post-game mood in the stadium reminded me of a funeral for a long-suffering relative. Fans knew this day was coming, and had known so for a long time. Once the inevitable had finally happened, they were choosing to remember the good rather than focus on the sadness - not only of the stadium, but of the 2005 season. In fact, my personal impression was that the season being over was minor in comparison to the loss of Busch Stadium, the only home that many of us have known for the Cardinals.

My friend and I left shortly after the video presentation, before the players came back onto the field. It felt like the end of an era - and, in reality, I guess it was.

Look for me to finish up the Walk Jocketty trade series sometime over the next few weeks. Yes, I know - I've said that before. And then we'll start looking at contract situations, free agents, and 2006.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Win Expectancy

Many of you have probably seen this little tool floating around. In a nutshell, Phil Birnbaum took the time to gather the boxscores for every game between 1979 and 1990, with the help of retrosheet. Chris Shea then put together this nifty little calculator that allows you to put in the game situation as an input. It then gives you, as an output, the number of games between 1979 and 1990 that had the same situation, the number of times the team won, and thus a percentage of liklihood that a team can win a game in a certain situation. Check it out for last night's game.

9th inning

Start of the Inning - 5.6% Chance of a Cardinal Victory
John Rodriguez strikeout - 2.4%
John Mabry strikeout - 0.9%
David Eckstein single - 2.7%
David Eckstein steal - 1.1%
Jim Edmonds walk - 5.3%
Albert Pujols Home Run - 82.9%
Reggie Sanders strikeout - 81.1%

Obviously, the system isn't perfect, and the numbers shouldn't be looked at as pure odds. Not every team during the 11 year span in question had Brad Lidge as a closer, or Albert Pujols as a hitter. And the fact that Eckstein actually hurt the teams chances of winning by stealing 2nd is a fluke in the data.

But the fact remains. The Cardinals, with none on and 2 outs, had less than a 1 in 100 chance of winning that game according to this data. On the road, in the playoffs, facing a team that hadn't blown a 9th inning game all season? It was likely even more improbable.

Wow.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Well...

That was fun.

I said this earlier today:

The truth of the matter is, the wins are more enjoyable when they are earned.
How much fun was it to see the Cardinals win Games 6 and 7 in the NLCS last year
when they appeared dead after Game 5? Not to mention the walk-off home run by
Edmonds in Game 6, the game saving catch by Jimmy in Game 7. None of those
moments would have been nearly as memorable had they come in Games 3 and 4 of a sweep. You have to walk the rocks to see the mountain view, as they say.



For those of you that turned off the game after the Berkman home run - you didn't go through the pain, so you can't enjoy the pleasure nearly as much.

Un-freaking-real.

Keep the Faith

I'm starting to wonder if I have the mental make-up to enjoy the playoffs. I mean - the Game 2 loss kicked my butt. The Game 3 loss didn't hurt as badly, but only because I thought the Cardinals would win Game 4. Which, in turn, really got me in a great mood last night/this morning...

I think, in a nutshell, the Cardinals recent trends in the playoffs has conditioned me to think this; once a trend starts, it seems to continue. Call it La Russa's law of playoff dynamics. Look at what La Russa's playoff teams have done in history.

1983 (White Sox) - 1-3 in the ALCS
1988 (Athletics) - 4-0 in ALCS, 1-4 in WS
1989 (Athletics) - 4-0 in ALCS, 4-1 in WS
1990 (Athletics) - 4-0 in ALCS, 0-4 in WS
1992 (Athletics) - 2-4 in ALCS
1996 (Cardinals) - 3-0 in NLDS, 3-4 in NLCS (after winning 3 of the first 4)
2000 (Cardinals) - 3-0 in NLDS, 1-4 in NLCS
2001 (Cardinals) - 2-3 in NLDS
2002 (Cardinals) - 3-0 in NLDS, 1-4 in NLCS
2004 (Cardinals) - 3-1 in NLDS, 4-3 in NLCS, 0-4 in WS
2005 (Cardinals) - 3-0 in NLDS, 3-3 in WS

What do you see? Very few La Russa led teams do anything half way. They tend to either sweep or be swept. Which is especially strange when you consider that four of those teams (1988, 1990, 2004, and 2005) were 100 win teams. The teams that appear to be outliers to "Tony's Law" were the 1992 A's (2 wins in a series?), the 1996 Cardinals (who built a lead then blew it), the 2001 Cardinals (just missed winning that one), and the 2004 Cardinals (dug out of a 3-2 series deficit in the NLCS.)

It gets even stranger if you break it down a bit further. The 1996 Cardinals, as I mentioned above, actually had a 3 games to 1 series lead in the NLCS before dropping 3 straight. Which means, they went 6-1 to start the playoffs, 0-3 to finish. 2004? Similar. They started the playoffs off by going 5-1, only to go 2-7 over the last 9 games of October. In fact, if you break all of his playoff teams into "hot" and "cold" categories, it looks like this.

Hot, 37-3 (.925 winning percentage)
Cold, 10-39 (.256 winning percentage)

There you have it. Tony's teams have gotten off to hot starts, winning 93% of their games. Once this hot streak lasted through the World Series. Three times it never started. Generally, however, it ends during the LCS. Why? Anyone? I have trouble thinking that the manager can guide a team into the playoffs, as well as (usually) past the 1st round, only to forget how to win.

OK, so enough of that stuff. Back to 2005. Carpenter goes tonight, and if there's anyone on the staff that you'd want going in a must win, it's him. And you know if the Cardinals can send this thing back to Busch, anything can happen.

Which brings me back to my initial train of thought. I'm not sure if I can handle the playoffs. The truth of the matter is, the wins are more enjoyable when they are earned. How much fun was it to see the Cardinals win Games 6 and 7 in the NLCS last year when they appeared dead after Game 5? Not to mention the walk-off home run by Edmonds in Game 6, the game saving catch by Jimmy in Game 7. None of those moments would have been nearly as memorable had they come in Games 3 and 4 of a sweep. You have to walk the rocks to see the mountain view, as they say.

In 2004, the Red Sox were down 3-0 in the ALCS before going on to win the World Series. In 2003, the Marlins were down 3-1 in the NLCS before going on to win the World Series. Both of those teams had 2 must-win games on the road in their respective LCS', with the Marlins having to do so in Games 6 and 7. By comparison, the Cardinals having to win one in Houston pales.

Of course, there is the final thing of having to beat Pettitte, Oswalt, and Clemens in consecutive starts. That's not going to be easy - but it's been done as recently as 3 months ago by none other than the Cardinals.

July 15th - Pettitte Start, Cards win 4-3
July 16th - Oswalt Start, Cards win 4-2
July 17th - Clemens Start, Cards win 3-0

Yes, I'm grasping at straws here. In a nutshell? Win tonight. Worry about Game 6 if that happens.

Friday, October 14, 2005

What a Difference

Funny how one's mood can be drastically different over a 12 hour (or less) period.

Yesterday, before the game, I was the fan of a 4-0 playoff team that hadn't trailed in a game. They were getting ready to face a starter they'd beaten up on this year, and countering with a guy that had given the Astros problems. I was wondering, at the time, if the Cardinals would win the NLCS in 5 games or 6!

Last night, by about the 8th inning, I was resolved to the Cardinals losing the game, potentially losing Sanders, and hoping they could find a way to win a game in Houston to send this series back to St. Louis. Talk about a roller coaster.

I don't have a bunch of stats or theories to pour over this morning. I'm more interested in venting a little frustration and getting my mind back into focus.

First, the Cardinals played very un-Cardinal like last night. It started in the first inning, when Grudz didn't cover 1st base on a Taveras bunt. That worked out just fine, but it was a sign of things to come.

As in, the 1st Astro run was scored on a passed ball, which was very un-Molina like. Things like that happen, but the game would have had a different feel in the 8th if it had been a tie game instead of a 2-1 Houston lead.

Julian Tavarez continued his crappy post-season by pitching horribly in the 8th inning. (I thought Marquis was the new 8th inning guy?) After the leadoff double to Berkman, Tavarez regrouped a little by getting Ensberg and Lane to ground out. (Side note - Tavarez has been lit up by left handers all season, as I mentioned in a previous post. Having him pitch to the switch hitting Berkman was a bad move off the bat.) Personally, I'm not sure why they didn't intentionally walk Burke at that point to set up force out at any base, but that call could go either way. Whatever the case, Burke singled him in, padding the lead. Then Adam Everett put the game out of reach, and potentially put Reggie Sanders on the shelf - even though that should have been a routine catch.

So...passed ball allows a run. The Cardinals pitch to Burke with a runner in scoring position and 2 outs and it burns them. And Sanders blows a simple play. The Astros took advantage of Cardinal mistakes, basically - just like the Cardinals have been doing to everyone else before last night.

And on one final negative note - let's hope that Sanders is in the lineup and healthy on Saturday for Game 3. It's bad enough that the Cardinals have been reduced to depending on (basically) 4 hitters to score runs for them in October with Walker struggling again. If they can only count on Eckstein, Edmonds, and Pujols for the rest of the playoffs, it could get ugly.

On the plus side - Mulder is obviously fine after taking a liner off the bicep. Edmonds made a great catch, even though he came up short with 2 men on twice last night. Marquis actually got the job done in relief. (Maybe Tony will move him ahead of Tavarez now.) And the Cardinals made Lidge work, even if it was only slightly.

I went into this series thinking the Cardinals should win it, and do so in 5 or 6 games. On top of that, I was only expecting a split of the first 2 games - which makes it even funnier that I'm upset over the loss, since I called it. (Of course, I also thought it would be Morris in Game 2, Mulder in Game 3.) So - like I said before this started - Game 3 is the swing game of the series. If the Cardinals find a way to win, they'll go up 2 games to 1, be looking at facing Backe in Game 4, and bring back Carpenter in Game 5. Driver's Seat City.

If the Astros win Game 3. Well, it won't be over, but it will set up a must win situation on Sunday. As in - while the Cardinals could beat Pettitte, Oswalt, and Clemens in 3 straight games to win the series, it wouldn't exactly be a given.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Nice Win

Fun fact for the night

Houston record vs. left handed pitching in 2005:

19 wins, 22 losses

Go Mulder!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

NLCS Preview: Starting Lineup

Cardinals vs. Astros (2005)

Here is what will likely be the regular lineup during this series, with Walker and Sanders likely flipped vs. Andy Pettitte.

Eckstein - .294/.368/.338, 707 OPS, 68 at-bats
Edmonds - .262/.324/.459, 783 OPS, 61 at-bats
Pujols - .302/.397/.524, 921 OPS, 63 at-bats
Walker - .340/.407/.553, 961 OPS, 47 at-bats
Sanders - .429/.529/1.179, 1708 OPS, 28 at-bats
Grudzielanek - .246/.246/.377, 623 OPS, 69 at-bats
Nunez - .200/.226/.200, 426 OPS, 30 at-bats
Molina - .245/.260/.367, 627 OPS, 49 at-bats

What you see there is a tail of two lineups. The first 5 have given the Astros fits this year, with the exception of Edmonds, who can't exactly be pitched around. You especially have to like the line sported by Sanders, who's entering this series with 1 or more RBI's in each of his last 9 games. (While I know that RBI's are a team dependant stat, that's still a nice trend.)

Once you get past Sanders, the bottom 4 (including the pitcher) have been automatic outs against Houston this year. (Other than Marquis and his .500/.538/.917 line over 12 at-bats, of course.) With that being said, if the top 5 hit anything close to the lines shown above, the bottom 4 will just be needed to provide solid defense and pitching. Everything else will be gravy.

Let me just say - a healthy Rolen in the lineup and on the field sure would be nice right about now.

No one on the Cardinal bench had any real success against Houston this year other than Einar Diaz (2 for 5 with a home run) and John Gall (1 for 1).

Astros vs. Cardinals (2005)

Biggio - .217/.269/.350, 619 OPS, 60 at-bats
Tavarez - .299/.319/.313, 632 OPS, 67 at-bats
Berkman - .263/.378/.605, 983 OPS, 38 at-bats
Ensberg - .339/.369/.629, 998 OPS, 62 at-bats
Lamb - .233/.273/.433, 706 OPS, 30 at-bats
Lane - .327/.375/.519, 894 OPS, 52 at-bats
Everett - .258/.288/.323, 610 OPS, 62 at-bats
Ausmus - .222/.300/.289, 589 OPS, 45 at-bats

Not quite as fearsome as the 2004 NLCS lineup with Beltran, Kent, and Bagwell, is it?

While the Cardinals offense vs. Houston is top heavy, the Astro offense vs. St. Louis is middle heavy. Based on these numbers, the Cardinals basically need to make sure that Berkman, Ensberg, and Lane don't beat them. Everyone else can be gotten to. Which, really, isn't a big surprise.

The best pinch hitting options for the Astros (based, once again, on head to head stats) are Raul Chavez (3 for 8) and Jeff Bagwell (4 for 16).

Here are how the lines match up if you look at the entirety of both teams head to head.

Astros - .250/.306/.378, 684 OPS
Cards - .265/.321/.428, 749 OPS

Yes, the Cardinals get on base more, but extra bases are the real difference seen.

The Cardinals clearly have an advantage in this series with the bats. The famous "they" always tout the mantra "good pitching beats good hitting." We'll see if it holds true.

Monday, October 10, 2005

NLCS Preview: Starting Pitching

Here we are, back in the NLCS against the Astros. I certainly would have liked to have seen the Houston/Atlanta series go 5 games, but I guess an 18 inning Game 4 is the next best thing. Today I'm going to look at the starting pitchers for both teams and how they have fared against each other this year. Tomorrow, time willing, I'll do the same for the starting lineups.

Cardinals

First, the Cardinal starters.

vs. Houston (2005)

Carpenter - 4-0, 1.85 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 39 innings
Mulder - 1-1, 2.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 29 innings
Marquis - 4-0, 3.22 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 36.1 innings
Morris - 1-1, 3.27 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 11 innings.

Note that Jeff Suppan didn't face the Astros this season, making his last start agianst them back in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS. In my mind, that actually may make him the ideal man to start Game 2 or 3 of this series.

OK, more numbers.

vs. Houston (2005)

Mulder - .215/.254/.299, 553 OPS, 107 at-bats
Carpenter - .229/.259/.336, 594 OPS, 140 at-bats
Morris - .238/.289/.357, 646 OPS, 42 at-bats
Marquis - .277/.310/.409, 719 OPS, 137 at-bats

The starters that actually faced the Astros this year did very, very well. Obviously, Carpenter should be the #1 starter for the Cardinals during this series even if you ignore his numbers vs. the Astros. Seeing them spelled out above, of course, only strengthens the argument.

Mark Mulder was also solid against the Astros this season, holding their batters to lower numbers than even Carpenter managed. Unfortunately, his health is a bit of a concern after getting hit in his pitching arm in Game 2 of the NLDS. It sounds as if Mulder should be ready to go in either Game 3 or Game 4. Hopefully it's Game 3, setting him up for Game 7 if needed.

Who should start Game 2? As I mentioned above, Jeff Suppan may be a prime candidate. Not only was he solid down the stretch for the Cardinals, but the Astros haven't seen him this year. That may make him a little harder to solve, as opposed to someone like Marquis, who has had 137 at-bats against the Astros this year.

If the team has to pick between Marquis and Morris for the Game 2 start, I think the slight nod has to go to Morris. Matt allowed fewer base runners against the Astros this year - although, he did not pitch in Minute Made Park all season. And we know if Morris has a problem, it's the long ball. Game 2 might work nicely for Morris, allowing him to pitch Game 6 in his 2nd start, avoiding the small park all together.

Which, of course, brings us back to Game 4 being potentially between Marquis and Suppan. One has been successful against the Astros, one hasn't faced them. Which is more important?

One final thing. I thought I'd list the number of starts each pitcher has had in each park. I know that in an earlier post I mentioned that Houston has a strange park factor this year, but common sense dictates that it's still a home run hitter's park.

Carpenter, 5 starts, 2 in St. Louis
Marquis, 5 starts, 2 in St. Louis
Mulder, 4 starts, 2 in St. Louis
Morris, 2 starts, 2 in St. Louis

So, as you can see, the numbers that the first 3 listed have posted have come in both parks, with Morris being the only unknown in Houston.

Astros

vs. St. Louis (2005)

Pettitte - 0-1, 1.35 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 20 innings
Clemens - 1-1, 2.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 24 innings
Oswalt - 1-2, 5.21 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 19 innings
Backe - 0-1, 10.32 ERA, 2.47 WHIP, 11.1 innings

For those of you wondering, Wandy Rodriguez got 2 starts against the Cardinals, with Ezequiel Astacio and Brandon Duckworth getting 1 each, thus helping to make the Cardinals head to head record look a little better than the match-up's we'll see this week.

vs. St. Louis (2005)

Pettitte - .188/.222/.319, 541 OPS, 69 at-bats
Clemens - .239/.304/.293, 597 OPS, 92 at-bats
Oswalt - .299/.313/.481, 793 OPS, 77 at-bats
Backe - .420/.483/.740, 1223 OPS, 50 at-bats

Pettitte really killed the Cardinals this year. Having him going in Game 1 is ideal for Houston, even though his dominance will be offset by Chris Carpenter. Clemens actually pitched rather well against the Cardinals, he just had more of his 2005 bad luck (Mark Mulder's 10 inning shutout as exhibit A.) An interesting note about Clemens - in 24 innings against the Cardinals, the power pitcher only struck out 13 batters, while walking 9. I think that's a great sign.

Oswalt was really hit hard by the Cardinals this year. Was it a fluke? To an extent, I'll say yes. In 2002 through 2004, Oswalt went 5-3 against the Cardinals with a 3.32 ERA. While that ERA is slightly higher than his overall numbers over that span (3.16), it's not exactly getting shelled. I'm going to hope that the Cardinals can continue to dominate Oswalt in the NLCS, but not expect it.

And the Cardinals absolutely owned Backe this year, which isn't a shock for a guy that had a 4.76 ERA, 1.46 WHIP on the entire year. Will he actually start in Game 4 of this series, or will Garner try to get Pettitte, Clemens, and Oswalt to start every game? With Garner, you never know.

Finally, the breakdown of starts.

Clemens, 4 starts, 2 in St. Louis
Pettitte, 3 starts, 1 in St. Louis
Oswalt, 3 starts, 2 in St. Louis
Backe, 2 starts, 2 in St. Louis

This chart seems to indicate that the Cardinals man-handling of Oswalt and Backe wasn't even aided by Minute Made Park. That can only be a good thing.

Wrap Up

Basically, all of the Cardinal starters were very solid against the Astros this year. On the other side of the coin, Pettitte and Clemens were tough, although Clemens' ERA was almost an entire run higher vs. the Cardinals as opposed to the rest of the league. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had their way with Oswalt and Backe. If you take some semi-educated guesses as to who the Cardinals and Astros will start in this series, it may look something like this:

Game 1 - Pettitte vs. Carpenter
Edge - Cardinals due to home field advantage, but the edge is slight.

Game 2 - Oswalt vs. Morris
Edge - Cardinals due to the Cardinals dominance of Oswalt this year.

Game 3 - Mulder vs. Clemens
Edge - Toss-up due to Mulder's health uncertainty and the Houston home crowd.

Game 4 - Marquis/Suppan vs. Backe
Edge - St. Louis due to Backe.

Game 5 - Pettite vs. Carpenter
Edge - Astros due to home field advantage.

Game 6 - Oswalt vs. Morris
Edge - See Game 2

Game 7 - Clemens vs. Mulder
Edge - Home field advantage is huge in Game 7.

My guess is that the Cardinals should split the first 2 games, and should be able to beat Backe in Houston. Game 3 could end up being the pivotal game of the entire series. If Mulder can pitch effectively and even get the win over Houston - putting the series at either 2-1 or 3-0 St. Louis - then the Cardinals are likely to win this thing in 5 or 6 games.

Of course, the bullpen has to pitch too...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Comments

I've finally had it with the spam comments on posts, so I've changed it so that only registered users can post them. I honestly don't know what effect that will have on anyone that wants to post a comment, or even if that will stop the spam. We can only hope.

Oh, and Go Cardinals!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Playoff Bullpen

With the very, very unfortunate news that Al Reyes is done not only for the playoffs, but for most of next year, I thought we'd better take a look at the bullpen for October.

The Cardinals can only carry 11 pitchers in the playoffs this year, which should be more than enough. Of course, Tony appears to be ready to carry all 5 of his starters, which limits the rest of the staff to 6 slots. Al Reyes was a shoe-in for the roster, of course, considering that he was either the best or 2nd best reliever the team had this year, depending on where you ranked Isringhausen. But with Reyes gone, the options are as follows.

Right

Jason Isringhausen
Julian Tavarez
Cal Eldred
Brad Thompson
Anthony Reyes
Adam Wainwright

Left

Ray King
Randy Flores
Tyler Johnson

Out of those 9 guys, 6 will be on the NLDS roster. Personally, I suspect that Izzy, Tavarez, Eldred, and Thompson are given from the right side. Likewise, King and Flores will likely fill out the roster. I really don't think that Wainwright and Johnson have a realistic shot to make the team. What about Anthony Reyes, though?

OPS Allowed (overall)

Al Reyes - 545
An Reyes - 546
Izzy - 595
Thompson - 647
Flores - 700
Eldred - 708
Tavarez - 765
King - 818

Off the bat, we miss Al Reyes. Anthony Reyes - in very limited work - was actually just as good as his (near) namesake.

OPS Allowed vs. Left

An Reyes - 426
Izzy - 495
Al Reyes - 547
Florez - 583
Thompson - 629
Eldred - 675
King - 680
Tavarez - 815

People are already saying that Al Reyes will be missed due to his ability to retire both right handed and left handed batters. Take a look at the splits of the other Reyes, though.

OPS Allowed vs. Right

Al Reyes - 544
An Reyes - 618
Thompson - 650
Izzy - 678
Eldred - 736
Tavarez - 745
Flores - 812
King - 981

Once again, Anthony Reyes is among the staff leaders. In fact, he leads this list when you factor in guys that can actually pitch tomorrow.

General Assessment

In general, I think an argument could easily be made that Anthony Reyes should be on the playoff roster. Maybe he doesn't get used in late situations due to the unknown factor, but recent history would suggest that that doesn't have to be an issue. (Francisco Rodriguez, Anaheim, 2002) I'm not 100% convinced that Anthony would completely replace Al, but I think the Cardinals could do worse. Such as, counting on Julian Tavarez and his 765 OPS allowed to pitch the 8th inning.

Randy Flores should be used as a LOOGY. (Left handed One Out GuY).

Ray King should be used as an extreme LOOGY.

Julian Tavarez, in all honestly, should be used as a ROOGY. (I don't think that's a real acronym, but I'm standing by my assessment!)

With those 3 guys limited to facing either lefties or righties, and Izzy limited to the 9th inning...well, that leaves 2 guys in the bullpen, plus a converted starter (Marquis, Morris, or Suppan.) Who is the 8th inning guy? Rookie Brad Thompson? Veteran Cal Eldred?

Seriously. Tony. For the love of Pete. Consider Anthony Reyes.